According to Kotaku, a group of Keywords Studios QA Tester currently working on Dragon Age 4 I’m on a war footing with Bioware and Electronic Arts because of the wages that are too low and anti-Covid security measures deemed inadequate. The formation of a trade union has even been proposed, with the hope of negotiating better terms.
Keywords Studios is an external contractor to Bioware and Eletronic Arts that works with various companies around the globe, including Sony, EA, Google and Square Enix, and specializes in quality control testing. Currently a group of QA testers work directly for the production teams at Bioware’s Edmonton (Canada) office for the development of Dragon Age 4. A representative of the group, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, explained that the management of the team of QA testers is managed directly by the developers BioWare and Keywords Studios’ role in all of this is almost exclusively administrative.
Dragon Age 4, an official artwork
The representative explained that the straw that broke the camel’s back, leading the group to consider the idea of forming a union, was the decision of the firm of forcing QA testers to work in the office as of May 9, despite the fact that there is an average of 1,000 new Covid cases per day in Alberta. To aggravate everything, the fact that Bioware employees with full-time contracts will still be able to work from home and that the company does not grant paid leave in case of positive Covid.
Another problem is related to pay. QA tester rep says some employees get paid just under 13 US dollars per hour, where Bioware full-time employees earn significantly higher numbers. There are also concerns about gender-based pay discrimination and pay transparency.
The QA testers registered their request to form a union with the Alberta Labor Relations Board last Monday, which is currently being evaluated. If it is approved, a vote will follow in which at least 40% of the participants will have to vote in favor to implement the formation of the union.